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Seniors lead Penn Wood to another runaway win

LANSDOWNE >> Penn Wood seniors Dahnye Redd, Joy Morton and Gabrielle Hairston have been instrumental in the rise of the school’s girls basketball program.

After Thursday’s 74-43 thumping of Academy Park, the Patriots (13-5, 6-0) are well on their way to capturing a third consecutive Del Val League title. With 12 straight victories under their belts, the Pats are also eyeing a third straight District One Class AAAA playoff berth. The All-Delco Redd scored a season-high 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

And here’s a scary thought: this squad is only getting better.

“When we came into the program, it really wasn’t a good program. They were losing a lot when we got here,” said Morton, who led the team in

Penn Wood's Joy Morton, center, breaks through the Academy Park defense of Terae Mason, left, and Elisha Hernandez, right, in Thursday's Del Val League game. Morton and the Patriots won their 12th straight game with a 74-43 decision. (ROBERT GURECKI - DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA)

Penn Wood’s Joy Morton, center, breaks through the Academy Park defense of Terae Mason, left, and Elisha Hernandez, right, in Thursday’s Del Val League game. Morton and the Patriots won their 12th straight game with a 74-43 decision.
(ROBERT GURECKI – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA)

assists (eight), steals (seven) and tied for first in rebounds (10). “Coach Mo (Boykins) always said that we can change it around. We now have more people, better players, that are coming through our organization. Me, Dahnye and Gabby have been playing since sixth or seventh grade. Our chemistry is amazing.”

Penn Wood’s senior leaders wanted to show the Knights, a vastly improved program from just a season ago, that they mean business. Coming into the shoebox wouldn’t be easy — and it wasn’t.

“We had to show them who’s on top,” said the diminutive Hairston, who was 7-for-9 from the floor with 16 points. “We got a job to do, we got to get a three-peat for the Del Val. That’s our (main) focus right now.”

Had they won, the Knights would have put themselves in prime position to earn a share of the Del Val. After a deflating first period in which they had more turnovers (10) than points (nine), AP stood even with the Patriots in the second quarter and trailed by 12 points at halftime. That deficit dwindled to nine points when Raven-Monet Kemper drained a 3-pointer to get AP within 39-30 with 4:20 to go in the third period.

The Patriots maintained their normally solid up-tempo pace, but they needed a charge. When the public-address announcer revealed the final score of the Penn Wood-Academy Park boys game — the visiting Patriots lost in lopsided fashion — the girls decided to ramp it up several notches.

So, they applied a full-court press and, in the span of 45 seconds, scored 12 unanswered points. A 14-point cushion had suddenly ballooned to a 64-38 lead.

“Honestly, they heard the boys score and they realized, OK, we’ve got to turn it up,” Boykins said. “Plus, I told them at halftime that you have to learn to not be on the same level that people put you on. You know, sometimes people put you on a level and they say, OK, this is their cap, this is all they will be. You’ve got to rise above that and when they understood that, I think that energy came after halftime.”

The shining star was Redd, an amazing talent who has made subtle improvements to her repertoire. Prior to the game, Redd was honored for scoring her 1,000th career point in December when the Patriots were on the road. Redd has an outside shot at becoming the first girls basketball player in Penn Wood history to have 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

There’s no player in Delco who can drive and score like Redd, but this season she has worked tirelessly to develop a mid-range jump shot. She put her skills on display Thursday, pulling up and hitting silky-smooth jump shots from inside the arc. Redd was a ridiculous 14-for-19 from the field.

Penn Wood's Gabrielle Hairston, left, tries to hold on to a rebound with Academy Park's Mahya Woodton, front, in the middle of the play during action Thursday night. Hairston scored 16 points in the Patriots' victory. (ROBERT GURECKI - DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA)

Penn Wood’s Gabrielle Hairston, left, tries to hold on to a rebound with Academy Park’s Mahya Woodton, front, in the middle of the play during action Thursday night. Hairston scored 16 points in the Patriots’ victory.
(ROBERT GURECKI – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA)

“This is my year to showcase it and show everyone what I can do,” said Redd, who entered the night as the leading scorer in Delco (21.6 ppg.). “I worked a lot on it. People are going to start seeing more of that from me.”

Penn Wood’s biggest concern was containing sophomore guard Mahya Woodton, who led the Knights with 14 points. Woodton twice reaggravated an ankle injury that had sidelined her for most of the season.

“The last time we played them, the game was close (a 49-44 Penn Wood win),” said Redd. “We knew we had to turn it up and make another statement.”

Sophomore Carle Andrews added 16 points for the Patriots, who shot 50 percent (31-for-62) from the floor. Kemper tossed in 10 points for AP.

In another Del Val League game:

Interboro 37, Chichester 31 >> Gina McNamee paced the Bucs (8-11, 4-2) with 12 points. Lauren Carrafa and Erica Brant scored nine points apiece for the Eagles.

In the Bicentennial:

Delco Christian 42, Calvary Christian 31 >> Taylor Mingle enjoyed a career game with 14 points to go with seven rebounds and three blocks for the Knights (14-5, 9-5). Siani McNeil added 11 points.

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